Maya Krishna Rao

Born in 1953 in New York, Shrimati Maya Krishna Rao is based in Delhi. Actor, director, writer, educator and activist, she is recognized as an original, innovative, and vastly talented creator of theatre today. Since the late 1970s, she has produced a body of work that has provoked her audiences to delve into social and political issues, even as it has amused and entertained them. A founder-member of the street theatre group Theatre Union, Shrimati Maya Rao scripted, directed, and performed powerful street plays such as Om Swaha, a critique of dowry, and Dafa No. 180, on the Indian rape law, between 1979 and 1982. In later years, she has produced a succession of compelling single-actor plays such as Ravanama, Are You Home Lady Macbeth?, A Deep Fried Jam, and Heads Are Meant for Walking Into. Quality Street, based on a short story by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie, was presented by her to great acclaim last year. Shrimati Maya Rao has received training in Kathakali from Gurus Madhava Pannikar and Sadanam Balakrishnan. She has studied politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and theatre arts at Leeds University, UK. She has worked briefly with the Perspectives Theatre Company in Nottingham, UK, designing programmes of community interest, and with the Leeds Playhouse Theatre-in-Education Company creating theatre programmes for schools. At home, too, she has been much involved with children’s theatre, conceiving, scripting, and directing a number of plays for the NSD’s TIE Company. She was Associate Professor at NSD from 1985 to 1990, and has been visiting faculty at the School since those years. A member of NCERT’s National Curriculum Framework Com- mittee, she has drafted a drama syllabus for Classes I to XII. A Doordarshan film was made on her work in 1997, titled Portrait of Maya Krishna Rao. She has been featured in Women Who Dared, a book on twenty notable Indian women of the last fifty years, published by the National Book Trust. Shrimati Maya Krishna Rao receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribution to Indian theatre as an actor.